Let’s Talk Chicken for a Minute, Shall We?

We’re going to have a gap in chicken availability until the last week of April, possibly the first week of May and there are two reasons for it. 1. Weather. 2. Bleach.

Ya, you read that right. Bleach. Let me explain.

Oftentimes people will ask me… is your chicken organic, is it certified humane, is it free range or soy free or this or that.  The issue with those labels is they don’t tell the entire story. You see, free range chicken doesn’t mean it was raised on pasture, and organic chicken doesn’t mean the chicken actually ever saw the light of day nor that it was given a life worthy of its sacrifice either. And none of those labels tell you how the farmer that raised them was treated, nor do any of them tell you if your chicken was dipped in chlorine (spoiler alert… most of the chicken in the United States, no matter the label, HAS been dipped in bleach. Not Moink chicken though. We don’t roll like that).

Here at Moink we do things differently. You see we believe in doing all the things and doing them right. We’re in the business of helping farmers farm, and raising animals right, and delivering the highest quality meat you can’t find anywhere else. We call this ethical meat. But, there isn’t a label that covers “all the things.”

Our chickens are raised outdoors on pasture and play a vital role in regenerative agriculture. They work in tandem with the bug population and put vital nutrients back into the soil. We raise them in “chicken tractors” which are essentially look like a big greenhouse with chicken wire around it to keep the predators at bay and to shade them from extreme heat. We move these bad boys daily so that the chickens are never on the same stretch of grass for more than 24 hours. We rely on four legged farm hands such as Pyrenees dogs to further protect them from the many predators lurking out in the wild open just waiting for a little nugget of chicken.

We supplement their diet with non GMO grains and probiotics. (Side note here… if anyone ever tries to sell you a vegetarian fed chicken please run. Chickens eat bugs… that isn’t a vegetarian diet.)

We don’t use antibiotics and we don’t use confinement buildings. We don’t do sketchy things like doctor their beaks or crowd the birds. Nah, our chickens are free birds. All puns intended.

A chicken tractor in Arkansas

Then, the nitty gritty details that y’all don’t want to know about… well, I’m in the business of making those details my business. The process of having the birds processed. You see, the majority of chicken here in the United States, organic, free-range, pastured raised, whatever you want to label it, has still, most likely, been dipped in chlorine to meet USDA processing requirements. But we don’t do that at Moink. We air chill them, and to meet the requirements of USDA we use an organic vinegar and hydrogen peroxide mix to clean our facilities. No bleached chicken here.

So, there is an art to sourcing our chicken. We have to have it grown near our processing facility which is in Arkansas. This means that we do not raise chicken in the dead of winter. I mean, hello, chickens eat bugs and there ain’t no bugs when you’re slipping on a solid sheet of ice. So what we do is project out in the summer and fall to our growers and our last batch of chickens are processed in December and has to last us until we start processing again in spring. It always makes me a little twitchy when I have to do these projections. If I over project and we grow too many birds without a market for them? The farmer and I both risk going bankrupt over it. Project too little and run short? Well, y’all get a little fussy about not having your chicken. And we need your business so that we can continue to grow and so that we can meet our next year projections. We can’t risk having a mass exodus of customers over the lack of chicken.

I am usually pretty spot on, but this year with Shark Tank we had an influx of business and we had very little notice before my episode aired (just a few weeks). As soon as I was given the green light that indeed, I would be swimming with the sharks (side note, there is no guarantee that your episode does air with Shark Tank), I told my farmers to get to gettin’ and we all started ramping up production in the hope that all of you would come support us. And you have, and I am very grateful for that, but the weather hasn’t cooperated with us as we would have liked and therefore our chickens didn’t grow as fast as we would have hoped. (When you don’t use factory farm methods, you have to be flexible with Mother Nature.)

Now, in the long run, we would love to have multiple processing facilities in areas where there isn’t snow in the winter so we can have year round bird production.  But that takes a lot of money and logistics and we haven’t gotten to that point yet. We will get there eventually… do or die trying, but we just aren’t there yet.

Chicken in Arkansas

And anyway, the end result is we have a gap.

Now, yes, I could source organic chicken elsewhere and it would have the label and it would have been fed all the right things, but it will have been dipped in bleach and you wouldn’t know that… but I WOULD KNOW and I like to sleep at night. And in my mind, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.

So, I am just not willing to lower my standards. I refuse to cut corners now matter how much pressure I am under.

So I am kindly asking y’all, if you really want to stand behind the small family farm and be in our corner, to please do a few things for me. 

  1. Eat some beef, pork, and salmon for the next few weeks. I mean, can we make bacon a thing for the next month? We will be completely out of chicken breast and chicken tenders and have a very limited supply of drumsticks and wings. If you are with beef and pork, swap out your chicken so those that are fussy about wanting chicken can have it.
  2. Stick with me. Once chicken is back in stock I’ll let you know because I’ll need you to eat through our projections. Literally. So that we can make sure we do that dance of supply and demand to support the family farm.

Please know that I truly appreciate your business and am very honored to play a part at your supper table.  Just the fact that you have taken the time to read this means that you care about where your food comes from and it makes us feel like we aren’t alone here.

Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we fight for the family farm.

From the heart,

Lucinda

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  • Your chicken saga is new to me, hearing the story really helped me understand.
    I looked at my first box as a sampler of your products and probably will the second box.
    Many of my main meals contain chicken, so I will be wanting more chicken in future boxes, FYI.
    I’m very excited to be cooking & eating soon!
    The Shark Tank show was a great way to launch your business growth……Patience

  • I just received my first box and I trusted you and didn’t even check the inventory of the items but I was very happy with the packaging and the appearance of the meat. I cooked the coullett steaks on the grill the next day and I have to tell you that I was very happy. My wife is not much of a meat eater but she enjoyed that steak. There was no fat and very tender. I am looking forward to cooking more on the grill as summer rolls in
    Thanks
    Ex

  • I was JUST thinking we’d be totally into this if only there was more chicken?! So glad to hear it’s coming back and looking forward to trying all the super happy/healthy chicken with my family. 😊

  • You know what?

    I got a box today, and the chicken looked about right. I noticed a couple packs of drumsticks, but as a picky chicken eater, even I’m not going to fuss over the diff(erence) (little developer* joke there!) between legs and thighs!

    I’ll see y’all and your replenished dino-butts in May!

    *If you can call a 200-pounder little …

  • Thank you so much for the honesty and thorough explanation! This was my first order after finding you on Shark Tank. It is great to finally find a company from yours since my wife and I are both very particular about where we buy chicken and beef from. Definitely will be worth the wait in the meantime for supply. Will definitely continue ordering on a regular basis as long as you continue sticking to your amazing principles!

  • I’ll stand by you, and whatever happens, happens. I’m saying this after just feeding my family the best chicken we’ve ever had. That’s alright by me and my family. We’ll wait for the best! More beef? More Pork? My silly hubby says, “ oh hurt me!” Lol We are with ya. He loves him some beef and pork.
    Being raised on a trout farm near the Buffalo River in Arkansas, I understand the “ nature” of things. Do what y’all do and we’ll stand by ya.
    Love ya guys!
    Donna

  • Wow thank you. I was wondering if I could really trust that the meat was what it was purported to be or if this wasn’t just another big business trying to dupe us all and charge us more for it. I don’t care if I don’t have chicken for a little bit but I really appreciate knowing that I’m not being lied to and ripped off from Moink. So many companies don’t care how much they have to lie or how unethical they have to be. All they care about is the bottom line. Your letter about the chicken it was so heartfelt that it made me trust you. I hope you are telling the truth and that it’s not just a clever marketing ploy. I’m sorry for being so cynical it’s just that we’ve been lied to a lot by the food industry. It’s become really hard to trust.

  • Hmmm a businesswoman that’s honest open and literally refusing to put an inferior product on my dinner plate… Is this real life? You’ve earned my respect and business for a long time

  • Thank you for this super thorough explanation and education in chicken processing.. I am all in on riding the wave with you of weather fluctuation — and the other vicissitudes of life (like Shark Tank!).

    One of the reasons I participate in Moink and a local CSA is that I don’t think it is fair for the farmer/rancher/grower to take all the risk inherent in feeding me. And I actually think it’s healthy for our bodies to adjust to the occasional glut or scarcity of specific foods.

    The other reason I participate in Moink is that I want the most of my food dollars possible to go toward regenerative farming. I admit to being a lousy marcher and protester — but I can make a political statement with every dollar I spend.

    I will not be ordering any chicken till I get the go ahead — or even the GO AHEAD. 🙂

  • As soon as I saw your email message, I logged in and I sent a message (I hope), I’m not a techy as you young folks. But just substitute some pork chops, or anything you want for that matter, we aren’t fussy. BTW: Please let us know when you have lamb. We’d love some lamb for a change.

  • Dear Lucinda,
    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s kind of frightening to be that out of touch with what our food goes through, so to put trust in a stranger to know what is best is not that easy for me. My main diet is chicken (for better or worse, thinking it was better for me…). I am a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer survivor who was just recently diagnosed with a second form of breast cancer. Knowing I needed to change my eating habits, and to understand a little better what goes into my body, my husband and I decided to be more conscious of what we eat and how it has been raised. When I saw you on Shark Tank I fell in love with your siprit and wanted to do something that would also help others. I’m not saying that what I have eaten in the past has given me cancer, but not knowing what I have been doing does scare me. We are looking for a better answer and your letter has proven I didn’t choose wrong.
    Best Wishes
    Rosemary

  • Thank you Lucinda 🙂 I really appreciate your transparency and dedication to ensuring a wholesome product for me and my family. We can manage some more lamb, fish, pork and beef in the meantime. Happy to help!

  • Thank you for the chicken update. We understand about mother nature and your farming techniques sound amazing! Your birds are totally worth the wait! We’ll just munch on some of your other fine products while we wait. 😊 We’re looking forward to trying out everything anyway. So happy you do what you do –

    Couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality and freshness. Thank you and thanks to the farmers.

  • Well sometimes we need a little push and if I’m going to get a push, I want to get the straight scoop. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you telling us about bleaching and the other misconceptions we form by the lack of information on the label . We certainly can’t count on any government run organizations to put our well-being at the forefront I have been buying my meat through other online vendors similar to you I look forward to tasting your product and knowing that I’m supporting the wholesome Lifestyle and humanity being practiced in raising and harvesting our food.